Prayer of Brother Bernard

The following prayer comes from The Oxford Book of Prayer, which besides having a really academic-sounding title, is a wonderful collection of beautiful and diverse prayers conveniently arranged by topic, style, origin and even prayers from other religions (“other” referring to religions not Christian). The prayers come from Scripture (Psalms, Prophets, Jesus, Paul’s letters) as well as anonymous and well-known theologians and writers from throughout history (Augustine, Bonhoeffer, Luther, Kierkegaard, Mother Theresa, etc.). This prayer in particular speaks to me because I think it puts thoughts that have been running through my mind lately into words. It’s written by a man listed only by the name Bernard, who was a member of the Society of St. Francis (I tried to wikipedia Bernard and couldn’t find anything about him). I suggest reading Bernard’s prayer out loud to make it your prayer; speak these old words back into life.

Lord, I want to love you, yet I’m not sure.
I want to trust you, yet I’m afraid of being taken in.
I know I need you, yet I’m ashamed of the need.
I want to pray, yet I’m afraid of being a hypocrite.
I need my independence, yet I fear to be alone.
I want to belong, yet I must be myself.
Take me, Lord, yet leave me alone.
Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief.
O Lord, if you are there, you do understand, don’t you?
Give me what I need but leave me free to choose.
Help me work it out my own way, but don’t let me go.
Let me understand myself, but don’t let me despair.
Come unto me, O Lord…I want you there.
Lighten my darkness…but don’t dazzle me.
Help me to see what I need to do and give me strength to do it.
O Lord, I believe; help thou my unbelief.

– Bernard, SSF

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